Monday, July 5, 2010

Titles for people.... getting controversial

This is me being controversial again. :-) Seriously, this is something that I have thought about and wonder about, so I'm going to throw my thoughts out there and see if anyone wants to agree or disagree.

Titles for people: Mister, Doctor, Reverend, Misses, President, Queen.... some people really get into them. I had a pastor a few years back, who if you called him by his first name, instead of "Brother..." or Reverend...", you got the high beams. I never tried it, but I have my ways of knowing. There are people who get their doctorate in different things, so people refer to them as "Doctor...".

I went to Bible college with my pastor, who is a couple of years younger than me. Even though he is my pastor, I feel weird calling him by anything other than his first name, Stan. Some people seem shocked if you refer to your pastor by his first name, but is it really a big deal?

I have a point I am getting to, believe it or not. I get it that titles can be a sign of respect, such as President Bush, Doctor Livingstone, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Harry, etc. But what about people who demand and expect titles? Is that pride, or something else? And is it wrong to refer to everyone by their given name? Is it wrong or disrespectful to refer to your pastor by his first name? The president? The scholar who has gotten his doctorate? An older fellow church member?

If you replied yes to any of those questions, then here is what I am driving at: why do we get so hung up on titles when we refer to the very God of the universe by His given name? To our Savior, Jesus, by His given name? To the countless saints in the Bible by their given names - are we putting ourselves above them if we demand to be called by a certain title? I'm not just trying to be controversial here - though I guess I am being so, but I have thought about this - is it really disrespectful or wrong to call everyone by their given names instead of by their titles when we are all so much lower than God, His Son, and the saints of the Bible, who we freely refer to by their given names?

I agree there are different settings and times in life where titles may be important - for there to be any respect in school, kids can't be calling teachers by their first names - and maybe some other situations/settings in life - but what about it - if we have a title and expect to be called by it - are we saying we are greater than God and the saints of the Bible? I am sure that isn't the idea people have, but when you put it in that light, I'd say none of us should put stake in a title. I guess what really gets me is people who pursue their doctorate in some study and then everyone is expected to call them "Doctor." Why? Because they went to school longer, or are smarter? :-)

I have a couple of titles. My nephews and nieces call me "Uncle Mark" some. They also call me "Mark" and even "Markie" (they are the only ones allowed to call me that!)  - sometimes at church, someone will call me "Brother", and I get "Mister" some, which only makes me feel old. I guess sometimes a title can be a sign of affection, such as "uncle".

Something to consider, actually two things: the ground is level at Calvary. God doesn't care about titles when we kneel at the cross. The other - up in Heaven, titles aren't going to matter either. We will all be equal there.

So.... any thoughts on titles? Getting hung up on them, and what about my point about calling God and His Son by His given name? Just be nice. :-)


Annette said...

I'll give a personal answer, my favorite titles were given to me out of love:

Steve-n-Deb said...

I do think titles show respect and I cringe when pastors are called by their first names.

So what about God and His Son? Well, I rarely call God by his first name. God is a title, not a name. The closest thing to a name that we have for God is "Yahweh" and the Jews never spoke it, and most Christians don't either (at least not on a regular basis). I actually feel more comfortable with the title Christ, than the name Jesus. However, the point of Jesus is that He came to become man to close the gap between us. Thus it is like calling a pastor by his first name because he is your friend. As pastor you use his title -- as friend you use his name.